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An early-season snowstorm is walloping North Dakota and Minnesota and the travel conditions are rapidly deteriorating as the powerful system spins from southwest to northeast Thursday-Friday. 

Roads in North Dakota were terrible pre-dawn Thursday in places like Bismarck, while other locations further northeast, like Grand Forks into northwestern Minnesota, are going to get slammed later Thursday into the overnight and Friday morning before the snow moves into Canada. 

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"Heavy snow/icing/blizzard conditions expected across eastern ND and NW MN," the National Weather Service said at 12:50 p.m. Thursday. "Impacts include difficult to impossible travel, power line/tree damage, power outages, and slippery surfaces. Dry air ahead of the system has delayed the onset of heavy snow but it will come!"

Up to 15 inches could slam Grand Forks and other locations in the Red River Valley, while Thief River Falls, Roseau and Baudette could all see a foot. Even higher totals are possible in North Dakota. 


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Freezing rain overnight led to numerous crashes, including a state trooper's squad car being mangled in a pileup on Interstate 94. The trooper in the vehicle shown below was not injured. 

Aaron Jayjack, an independent storm chaser, is covering the blizzard in Bismarck. He's tweeted numerous videos showing the intense snow and strong winds causing whiteout conditions, in addition to deep snow on the roads.

"Very deep snow now, winds very treacherous," Jayjack said. "This storm is going to make its way to the northeast through North Dakota today, towards Grand Forks into Canada. Southeastern Manitoba, southwestern Ontario, northwestern Minnesota could see those blizzard conditions as well."

The North Dakota Department of Transportation has advised no travel for the entire southern half of the state, including all of Interstate 94 from the west side of the state all the way to Fargo. Road closures and no-travel advisories are expected to grow as the storm advances northeast. 

Road conditions in North Dakota around noon Thursday. 

Road conditions in North Dakota around noon Thursday. 

Below are two photos from 12:30 p.m., the first from near Hillsboro on the Minnesota-North Dakota border. The second is 200 miles southwest in rural Bismarck, where the blizzard was raging midday Thursday. Conditions will worsen in Hillsboro, Grand Forks and areas in the path of the storm. 

Hillsboro at 12:30 p.m. Thursday

Hillsboro at 12:30 p.m. Thursday

Rural Bismarck at 12:30 p.m. 

Rural Bismarck at 12:30 p.m. 

Thundersnow has also been detected near Valley City – west of Fargo – and the National Weather Service expects more snow lightning in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

The HRRR weather model shows how the storm is expected to unfold through Friday morning before the system advances totally into Canada. 


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